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I was about a hundred feet away from him when Pappy hollered, Henry ! Your brother’s home! Henry !
Henry emerged from the barn holding a feed bucket. What ? he yelled. Then he saw Jamie. He whooped, dropped the bucket and broke into a run, and so did Jamie. Henry’s bad leg made him awkward, but he seemed not 5 to notice it. He pelted forward with the joyous abandon of a schoolboy. I realized I’d never seen my husband run before. It was like glimpsing another side of him, secret and unsuspected.
They came together ten feet in front of me. Clapped each other on the back, pulled apart, searched each other’s faces: ritual. I stood outside of it and waited.
You look good, brother, Jamie said. You always did love farming.
You look like hell, Henry replied.
Don't sugarcoat it, now.
You need to put some meat on those bones of yours, get some good Mississippi sun on your face.
That’s why I’m here.
How’d you get out here ?
I hitched my way from Greenville. I met one of your neighbors at the general store in town. He dropped me off at the bridge.
Why didn’t Eboline drive you ?
One of the girls wasn’t feeling well. Sick headache or some such thing. Eboline said they’d be down this weekend.
I’m glad you didn’t wait, Henry said.
Jamie turned to me then, looking at me in that way he had-as if he were really seeing me and taking me in whole. He held his hands out. Laura, he said.
I went to him and gave him a hug. He felt light against me, insubstantial. His ribs protruded like the black keys of a piano. I could pick him up, I thought, and had a sudden irrational urge to do so. I stepped back hastily, flustered. Aware of his eyes on me.
Welcome home, Jamie, I said. It’s good to see you.
You too, sweet sister-in-law.
Hillary Jordan, Mudbound, 2008